Charges against Oxford Community Schools officials ‘possible,’ prosecutor says
PONTIAC, Mich. (WILX) - Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said the mass shooting at Oxford High School could have been prevented.
The suspected shooter -- 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley -- and his parents are in custody and facing charges for the attack that killed four students and wounded seven other people.
Jennifer and James Crumbley have both been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. A federal manhunt occurred Friday night in search of the Crumbleys, who were found in a warehouse in Detroit early Saturday morning.
Police are currently investigating a man in connection with the warehouse to see if he assisted the Crumbleys.
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At a press conference Monday, McDonald explained why in this case it was warranted to charge the parents.
“Going to the source, if he had not had access to that weapon, if it was secured away from him -- whether it’s locked or not -- he had access to it, and all of this could have been prevented if he hadn’t had access,” McDonald said. “Or if just one of those parents had said, ‘I’m concerned about what I’m seeing right now and I also want you to know we just bought him a gun for Christmas’ and that didn’t happen.”
McDonald said the investigation into the attack will also determine if school officials will be charged. She said three hours before the teen reportedly opened fire, he was sent back to class after his parents and school counselors met with him.
That meeting was reportedly about a drawing a teacher had found on his desk. It includes a drawing of a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” Also depicted is a bullet with the words “blood everywhere” above a person who appears to have been shot twice and is bleeding. A laughing emoji is drawn below the figure. The note also says “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.”
In the aftermath of the fatal shooting, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office is positioned to lead an independent investigation.
”When the superintendent specifically indicated that they were looking at having a third part investigate, frankly I can think of no agency that is better situated to perform such an investigation than the Michigan Department of the Attorney of Attorney General,” Nessel said. “We’re not there to protect or persecute anyone. We’re just there to find out what the truth is. Then, we can better understand what happened, why it happened.”
The first part of the investigation would be looking at whether any policies or protocols had not been followed.
“We’re not looking to redo the sheriff’s department’s investigation. It would be a much broader investigation,” Nessel said. “They have jurisdiction over criminal liability, but it’s not their job to look into if any civil laws were broken.”
Nessel hopes the tragedy will be a learning experience going forward.
“Clearly we have not just the resources available, but we have the institutional knowledge for this type of investigation,” Nessel said. “Not just Oxford Community Schools, but for all schools around the state of Michigan, so that we can use this horrific tragedy as a learning experience to do better and to make sure this doesn’t happen elsewhere in our state.”
Oxford Community Schools announced a plan to reopen schools for the district’s younger students. The plan includes a soft-opening with the presence of law enforcement and trained counselors.
Pre-school through middle school will return Friday for a half-day and will full open Dec. 13.
Oxford Virtual Academy will resume classes Thursday.
Superintendent Tim Throne said it will be a while before the high school is ready for students.
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